The Town That Food Saved

How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

For a group of young agri-businessmen in a small Vermont town, buying local could be a ticket to economic stability. The book describes their efforts to nurture a healthy local food system, which has drawn national attention.

256 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted May 17, 2022


This was such a great read! I selected this book after taking on leading a community building effort to address food security in my community. I loved the idea of a town coming together to support their community through food. Food is such a powerful connector and this book really highlighted its importance to community success. As the book title suggests not only was it important, it really became the corner stone of revitalizing a town standing on its last legs.


Review posted March 10, 2021


Inspiring book!

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Review posted February 18, 2021


Enjoyed this read! I good story for anyone interested in food systems work, and a great way to show how food can make impacts in communities -- from brightening families tables to major economic impacts.


Review posted January 31, 2021


I ejoyed the book, The Town That Saved Food, as it was a wonderful example how the small community of Harwick Vermont, positivly influence thier economy with food. The commnuity of Harwick was much like my home community with a high rate of people living below poverty level. The most powerful piece I took from the book was an explaination of what a "decetralized food movement" would look like. It has econmic viability, it based on "Sunshine" (verses chemicals and petrolium), it feeds people locally and its circular ( flowing and feeding itself). It is an intersting book because small communities such as my own can learn form the examples of Harwick Vermont.


Review posted January 19, 2021


Very informative, yet engaging and an interesting read on the quest of local food systems. Brings up a lot of thought-provoking questions about the importance of local agriculture, sustainability, the issue of access for all people, and how the town in Vermont can be a model for other places in the US int he future.


Review posted November 21, 2020


I would highly recommend this book. I was thrilled that composting was also brought up regarding the circular farming cycle.


Review posted November 10, 2020


Loved this book. It was so well written. It reminds me how important it is to support our local farmers but also how we can strategically create a business model that helps our communities.


Review posted January 20, 2020


I can see how this same type of change would be good for my own town, which has a slow economy and has suffers from any downturn in the lumber industry.


Review posted December 6, 2019


Wanted to really like the book but maybe missed the point. Seems there are a lot of improvements that could be made to a centralized food system. Confused on how replicating this local system will somehow scale up to feed the masses.


Review posted August 18, 2019


Great read. Very insightful.


Review posted March 25, 2019


A detailed look at an obvious solution to rural poverty & isolation. I enjoyed the time the author spent with different people in the community and attempted to relay their point of view in the book. Inspirational for Siskiyou County.


Review posted January 29, 2019


Very good "food for thought." Local economy, local food, thriving communities. A much better option that what we have going for most of us now.


Review posted December 9, 2018


My oldest son and I found this to be an interesting and entertaining read. He is interested in being a chef, eating locally grown and in-season foods, and also in promoting the economy of the small town we live in, so this was useful for him to better understand how to put his ideas toward his future business/career. I'd definitely recommend it for others to read!


Review posted December 3, 2018


The book was eye opening on regards to small towns that rely on the food industry for stability and economic growth. . The book was hard to read as it was slow getting into it


Review posted November 15, 2018


The Town That Saved Food depicts the repercussions of falling under the spell of industrial agriculture, and paints a robust picture of what it will take to break that spell and ameliorate the inherent vulnerabilities of a centralized food system. Hewitt posits a variety of thoughtful questions and investigates possible answers through the lens of a quaint, yet vibrant Vermont town. He explores the viability and impact of innovative initiatives such as a “community supported restaurant”, and highlights the elegant power of compost to move communities toward food sovereignty. While each community is unique in the challenges it faces and the assets it can capitalize on, food is a grand connector that is ripe with opportunities to strengthen the local economy, heal the environment, and nourish our social networks across county lines. Individual creativity and community collaboration are key ingredients for responding to these opportunities, sharing information and spreading awareness, and sowing the seeds of change.


Review posted September 17, 2018


Well written and thoughtful, this book was a great read. The author argues to support local food systems, which in turn helps local communities thrive.


Review posted January 10, 2018


The book gave me something to think about regarding ways to grow our economic development options by putting some focus on the evolving local & specialty food industries. Some of of these ideas, we might be able to use locally to make agriculture a thriving business and community economic develop strategy here. By encouraging the development of value added products, this small community was able to enhanced the economic viability of their local farming industry and address some of their community's economic issues. There are limitations based on the differences between their community and ours, but the book still provides useful information that gives us some ideas about how we might better utilize the natural land resources we have to improve our economic viability and sustainability.


Review posted April 14, 2017


One thing I did like about this book, is the wonderful example of community building and economic development utilizing local assets. The story is about a town called Hardwick, Vermont, and over the past few years. Has jump-started its economy and redefined its self-image through a local, self-sustaining food system unlike anything else in America. Even as the recent financial downturn threatens to cripple small businesses and privately owned farms, a stunning number of food-based businesses have grown in the region. There are many colorful characters, from the optimistic upstarts creating a new agricultural model to the long-established farmers wary of the rapid change in the region. Hewitt's profiles of the people he talks with are often funny and a little edgy. I love how the author shows both sides of this transformation. Because, it's so apparent that the citizens of the surrounding (as well as the citizens of Hardwick) area have been so supportive of all that's going on there. Both in purchasing the local products as well as supporting the new businesses.


Review posted March 1, 2017


I liked this book, particularly the wonderful characters and their personal stories told here. I felt like I learned a lot about the local food movement, but I believe that it is overly idealistic to use Hardwick as a model. It seems that the author thinks the town is unique in some way, which I don't believe is the case. This is an era of food revolutions in areas around the country. That being said, there are moments of inspiration here, and it's definitely worth the read.


Review posted February 15, 2017


To call this a "case study" is to do a disservice to Ben Hewitt's excellent writing and engaging storytelling, but it is a useful and inspiring example of the power of local food and local economies. Hewitt doesn't spend too much time extracting lessons for other places, but I don't think he needed to. The conversations that this book will inspire are necessarily local, focused on the gifts, need, people, and land of particular places. I hope it does inspire such conversations.


Review posted August 24, 2016


This was a wonderful book with lots of info and ideas

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Review posted August 1, 2016


Hewitt is very thoughtful and well versed on the topic of locally sourced foods. The book was well researched. The writing is captivating. Well worth a read.


Review posted May 8, 2016


A fantastic book that taps into the strength of what many rural towns have but don't utilize. The food movement in Hardwick, Vermont is small-scale and diverse, which is developing a type of resilience that is manifold.


Review posted March 17, 2016


Hardwick, Vermont as described by the author, is just like hundreds of small communities across America. Attempting to make a point the author uses numerous unsupported statistics which prompted me to make a note on page four about one particularly questionable finding. Despite that, I liked this book for nothing more than telling readers that if Hardwick can do it your community can too. Some pungent language may be offensive to some readers.


Review posted March 13, 2016


Hewitt paints a vibrant and often humorous picture of the characters that make up the local food scene in the town of Hardwick, VT. His account covers not just the positive aspects of a sustainable local food system, but also its complexities and difficulties. The text also highlights the strength and interconnectedness of a small community and its citizenry. I found the ability for change, not in spite of, but because of the communities size, to be quite inspiring. I really enjoyed this book and will be sharing it with others.


Review posted March 7, 2016


A very fascinating look at a local food system in VT. Well written and engaging to read, recommended.

Christi A Clark

Review posted March 1, 2016


I attempted to read this book twice. The content is interesting and the author is a decent writer. But at best, this should be a magazine article.


Review posted August 17, 2015


This book gave me hope for my small town. Sometimes it seems that a community isn't a community until it has faced and survived adversity.


Review posted July 17, 2015


Good idea but repetitive..long drawn out read..value added products are a great economic way to build profit.


Review posted July 9, 2015


I love the author's writing style. What an inspiring true story of caring families working the land. Very interesting perspectives on "Local" food too. This book really makes you think, which is a good thing.


Review posted June 25, 2015


was easy reading and enjoyed it for the most part. I did not appreciate the crude language used however. Lacked professionalism in the journalism. I am unsure that I would recommend it to someone else.


Review posted May 15, 2015


"The Town That Food Saved" was a very informative account of how a rural community works together to maintain it's own sustainability. The title seems a little misleading because the town had it's own vitality well established before the agripreneurs came into their community. But granted, more jobs were created, more vitality was added by the agripreneurs, and the community gained notoriety even though this was not always wanted by community members. This is a good example of how change affects different parts of a community, big or small. I would be interested to read more about the outcomes from this change in the Hardwick, Vermont area.


Review posted May 15, 2015


The "rebirth" of Hardwicke, Vermont is becoming a familiar story. It encapsulates what I've observed, and been a part of, in the Pacific Northwest for the past 20 years. My town even has a blinking light where Hwy 101 makes a turn in the middle of our 3-block town! The older generation dairy farmers are watching the younger niche smaller farmers with interest (in a county where the cows outnumber the people). Everyone is learning. Twenty years ago, it took a lot of talking and presenting to convince chefs that fresh herbs and vegetables picked in the morning were superior to veggies that traveled up the West Coast, or herbs dried in a massive amount. But, they listened, they learned, and now expect/insist on locally grown foods. Excellent book, which I will pass around, and donate to my branch library for others to be enlightened and understand what the "local food movement" means to us all ~ the soil, plants, consumer, provider or business person. It's a win-win!

Lynne Patrick

Review posted May 13, 2015


I found this book hard to read, choppy and boring. I guess it was about the economics of small scale farming and food production, but I gave up after reading 2/3rds so don't know if he ever got to his point or exactly what that was.

Jane Anderson

Review posted May 1, 2015


I found the book engaging at a level I didn't expect. I had hoped to find some insight that could be applied to communities in my own home region, and did find that, but also found myself thoroughly interested in the outcome of this economic adventure on the other side of the country. The author has taken a very personal and insightful approach to studying this food economy experiment in his own neighborhood, making the reader feel a connection to the community members and a real concern for the outcome of their endeavors. What I thought was somewhat lacking was a deeper examination into the reasoning of those resistant to these changes in their community, especially those who had opinions formed over generations of local residency, and only because that insight could have been helpful to other readers as well as myself trying to better understand resistance in rural communities to progressive ideas brought from outside regional borders. It would be interesting to read a follow up in the future because this book encompasses too short a time span to see the fruits of this food based economy across the towns surrounding Hardwick, as well as its impact as an influence on a wider region. The book does do a good job of reminding us all that each community is unique in ways that would challenge attempted change, so even though it offers the reader opportunity for thoughtful reflection, it does not offer a blueprint to a sustainable food based economy everywhere.


Review posted April 20, 2015


Food security is an important topic and one that the author addresses through walking with you through the food system. The people are true hero's in ensuring the availability fresh, local, sustainable sustenance.


Review posted February 24, 2015


This book gives us hope! Even though it contains some very sobering data and statistics, I feel better about the future of our Country. Residents in our area of Oregon have been working toward getting back to the land for many years. It's exciting to think we can play a part in potentially saving the Country. Thank you for making copies available!